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Speed stopper a potential lifesaver -

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Speed stopper a potential lifesaver

Broadcast: 25/11/2009

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

Most road safety experts believe that speed is one of the major contributors to road trauma. A
system known as intelligent speed adaptation has been hailed as a potential lifesaver. The device
which warns a driver when they're speeding some systems can even force the car to slow down by
reducing the amount of fuel flowing to the engine.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: As the holiday season approaches, authorities are bracing for the almost
inevitable spike in car crash injuries and fatalities.

Most experts believe that speed is one of the major contributors to road trauma.

Well, a system known as "intelligent speed adaptation" or ISA has been hailed as a potential

It's a device which warns a driver when they're speeding; some systems can even force the car to
slow down by reducing the amount of fuel flowing to the engine.

But there are some doubts that the technology can deliver all it promises.

Tracey Bowden reports.

TRACEY BOWDEN, REPORTER: Every day a road somewhere in Australia becomes a crash scene. A
distressing crush of metal and broken bodies.

Up to 150,000 people die in car accidents each year, tens of thousands are injured. Most safety
experts agree there is one main cause.

JOHN WALL, NSW CENTRE FOR ROAD SAFETY: Speed is the largest contributing factor to fatal and
serious injury crashes across the whole of Australia. If we can bring people's speeds down, we will
dramatically cut the number of deaths and injuries on our roads.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Now a device which safety experts hope will do just that is being trialled in
Australia. It's called Intelligent Speed Adaptation, or ISA.

JOHN WALL: This is perhaps the most effective road safety technology that we could put into
vehicles that has yet to be implemented.

TRACEY BOWDEN: The trial is being conducted in the Illawarra region, south of Sydney. Participants'
cars are fitted with a device which looks like a satellite navigation system. The speed limits on
all the roads in the area have been recorded and when drivers exceed the speed limit, they're told
about it.


It starts to pip at me and the faster I go the more it pips and I gets so annoying you have to take
your foot off the accelerator which is really good.

TRACEY BOWDEN: 57 year old Robyn Stevens is one of the locals taking part in the study.

JOHN WALL: I am a seasoned driver who has driven for 40 years and thought she was doing the right

TRACEY BOWDEN: What did you find out about the amount that you speed?

ROBYN STEVENS: I found out I do it all the time.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Danny Peterson is also a participant in the trial. At 21, he is in the age group
which contributes the most to fatalities on our roads.

DANNY PETERSON, TRIAL DRIVER: Generally everyone goes over the speed limit, no matter what they
say. My driving before was probably a little bit erratic, with work driving around a fair bit and
frying to get a place a bit quicker, on time, I guess I did tend to speed a bit more.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Over the years, the message that speed kills has been central to Australia's road
safety campaigns. Experts from around the world are looking at ways to slow motorists down.

British professor of transport safety, Oliver Carsten, told a recent conference in Sydney that
Intelligent Speed Adaptation is the most important safety development since the seatbelt.

reduction in injury accidents. We're talking about up to 50 percent savings in fatal accidents.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Professor Carsten's latest study takes the system beyond the advisory level. The
device is connected to the car's engine.

OLIVER CARSTEN: We linked to it the vehicle controls and what happened was when the driver wanted
to accelerate beyond the speed limit when the system was active, they simply couldn't. The throttle
went dead essentially.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Now when you mentioned this system to people one of the first things they say is it
sounds dangerous that you don't have control of the vehicle.

OLIVER CARSTEN: Well you do have control of the vehicle. We also had an override on the system,
first of all, so driver s could override. So one of the interesting thing is to see who overrides
it and who doesn't.

TRACEY BOWDEN: The results in the UK trial were dramatic.

OLIVER CARSTEN: Essentially the effect on speed was pervasive. Everyone had their speed modified.
People were driving less over the speed limit and particularly the very high speeds were curtailed

TRACEY BOWDEN: But not everyone agrees on the value of ISA devices. Forensic engineer John Lambert
has worked in road safety for more than 30 years, almost half that time at Vicroads.

He's convinced there is too much focus on controlling the speed of drivers.

JOHN LAMBERT, FORENSIC ENGINEER: To have a computer system take over a car driven by a responsible
driver is an appalling suggestion.

There's the 20 percent of drivers who cause 80 percent of the crashes and no speed cameras, ISA, no
technology will stop the extreme speeders on our roads, other than police on the roads.

TRACEY BOWDEN: John Lambert believes that responsible drivers can determine the appropriate speed
to travel.

JBM: It's much better for driver to be assessing the situation on the road and adjusting their
speed to the conditions than having some third party system distracting them from that driving

TRACEY BOWDEN: Back in Wollongong, it's early days in the ISA study. But the first round of results
are positive and support the findings of trials in other countries.

JOHN WALL: Before we put the device in, 20 percent of vehicles were travelling over the limit for a
large proportion of their time. Since the device went in, that's dropped back to only 12 percent of
vehicles exceeding the speed limit.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Both Robyn Stevenson and Danny Peterson say they've changed their driving habits.

ROBYN STEVENS: Definitely slowed down. A lot more cautious.

TRACEY BOWDEN: So you're a safer driver because of this?

ROBYN STEVENS: Yes, definitely.

DANNY PETERSON: You do get into the habit of driving safer. I think the best sort of target
audience to have would be to have initially when people get on their provisional licence or their
Ls to have that good driving to start with.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Supporters of Intelligent Speed Adaptation say their ultimate goal is for all
vehicles to be fitted with the system. But they know there are numerous hurdles to be cleared
before that happens.

OLIVER CARSTEN: People are already quite willing to accept it. The politicians I think don't quite
believe that.

TRACEY BOWDEN: Do you believe it might ever be law that these have to be in vehicles or do you
think that's a long way away?

JOHN WALL: I think it's very early days. If we travel at the legal speed limit, we will reduce road
trauma on our roads. It's that simple.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tracey Bowden with that report.